It’s sometimes easy to forget that when ChocoPro began, there was no feeling (at least as a fan) that this would be a long-term thing. At the time, we thought COVID would be over sooner rather than later, and Emi Sakura throwing a live show on YouTube to highlight Baliyan Akki vs Minoru Suzuki felt like a fun way to pass the day. Those first few shows had no unique identity or distinguishing features but came across as Gatoh Move without the fans and with added squats. However, as it became clear COVID wasn’t going anywhere, ChocoPro began to search for what made it unique. And while they went through a few ideas (Mei Suruga’s arts and crafts period was a personal favourite), they eventually settled on the formula that exists to this day. And the key to finding that formula? Yuna Mizumori vs Emi Sakura.
Oni vs Pineapple was when ChocoPro figured out how to use YouTube to their advantage. Their feud wasn’t confined to the wrestling shows but found its way into nearly every video. It became common for Yunamon or Sakura to burst into livestream chats and loudly remonstrate against whatever the other was saying, makings fans feel like they were caught between two warring parties. Even the famous post-show janken tournaments weren’t safe, as more than one example of grand theft chocolate played out in front of our eyes. While the majority of us were trapped at home, ChocoPro found a way to weave their storyline through the week, making the war as likely to flare up during a watch party or a card announcement as it was a match and turning all of them into essential viewing.
And I don’t know if anyone else in ChocoPro could have been a better yin to Sakura’s yang at that point. Yunamon is a brilliant wrestler, but this feud allowed her character to shine. You always get the sense that she’s on the verge of exploding, and whether it’s into song, anger or tears is decided on the flip of the coin. It’s something that makes her incredibly endearing but also puts her at odds with her trainer. Emi Sakura isn’t emotionless, but she always has a plan, stirring the pot to get the reactions she desires. Against that, Yunamon was helpless, unable to stop herself from falling for every trick. She was dancing on the end of Sakura’s line, which made it all the more infuriating to watch, as we were desperate for her to go out and unleash a tropical arse kicking on the Oni.
It’s a personality that Gatoh Move is going to miss. They have other great wrestlers, and they don’t lack charisma, but no one that bursts with the life of Yuna Mizumori. On the flip side, wherever she ends up next will see something special. It’s hard to imagine that combination of flair, power and speed not being a success, as she has everything she needs to go out there and smash it. It’s going to be tropical awesome, and while I’m sad we’re not going to see her in Ichigaya any time soon, I’m very excited to see where she ends up next.
Thanks to their No Pay Wall initiative, all Gatoh Move and ChocoPro content is available for free on Gatoh Move’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2HtPsU4U7TNSv2mSbPkj0w
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